By Simon Evans
MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) - Tottenham Hotspur's decision to impose a 20% wage reduction on 550 non-playing staff due to the impact of the coronavirus has prompted increased pressure on Premier League players to take a pay cut or a deferral of wages.
The Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) are in talks with the Premier League over how best to deal with the current suspension of competition, but the moves by some clubs to use the government's furlough scheme has prompted sharp criticism.
On Monday, Newcastle United put non-playing staff on leave and instructed employees to apply for the government's newly-created coronavirus job retention scheme.
Professional football in England has been suspended until April 30, at the earliest, due to the pandemic.
Norwich City on Tuesday said they were taking similar steps to "safeguard future jobs and help sustain the club" through the crisis. The Norfolk club said they would top up the government's help to ensure staff received their full salaries.
Julian Knight, the Conservative MP who is chair of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport Committee in the British parliament, has condemned such moves.
“It sticks in the throat,” said Knight.
“This exposes the crazy economics in English football and the moral vacuum at its centre.”
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said top players should be the ones who make the sacrifices.
"It should be those with the broadest shoulders who go first because they can carry the greatest burden and have probably got savings, rather than those who were in catering or hospitality who have probably got no savings and live week by week and who probably won’t get the (government) benefits for five weeks," he told the BBC.
Former Crystal Palace chairman Simon Jordan said the situation was an "awful look for football.
“I believe there is a moral issue around an industry like football that has been awash with money,” Jordan told the talkSPORT radio station.
“Football players and football clubs over the last five years have really had it on their toes with the revenues that have increased because of the broadcasters.
“I think there is a situation here where football has to look at itself and say, ‘Do I really, just because the government is offering its teat, have to nuzzle on that?’."
Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy said his move aimed to protect the club but said he hoped that talks between players, managers and the Premier League would reach a decision.
"We hope the current discussions between the Premier League, PFA and LMA (League Managers Association) will result in players and coaches doing their bit for the football eco system," he said.
(Reporting by Simon Evans; Editing by Ken Ferris)